Mmmmm. Food. Shrinking your foodprint part 1

Check back here for a one-a-day series of actions and solutions from now until 12/11, while the international climate talks (COP 21) are going on in Paris.  Check out this piece from the World Council of Churches about food justice and climate change called COP 21: how climate change affects access to our daily bread

There are so many ways to shrink our “foodprints.”  Today, we’ll address the one part of the puzzle most people don’t associate with climate change: avoiding waste

Don’t waste.  Seriously.  Food waste is a huge problem.  Click on the graphic below for lots more info.  In 2013 alone, Americans threw out over 37 million tons—or 74 billion pounds—of food (source).  Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 4.27.35 PM

Improve together! There is so much generational wisdom to tap into here.  Think about interviewing all the folks in your congregation or community who lived through culturally lean times, and cooked most of their own food.  You’ll find people who know how to make amazing soup stock from not-so-edible remainders.  You’ll find people who know how to plan a series of menus that draw on part of the one before, making something different and new (so it doesn’t feel like leftovers) using some of the same ingredients, so that you can use everything up.  You’ll find people with amazing systems for freezing leftovers that will be the basis of another meal — and finding them when they’re needed.  You will even find people who know how to “put up” backyard garden overflow.    Add to that our much-easier modern access to varied spices and recipes, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for a great potluck+PDF recipe or instruction book.

Here’s an excellent demonstration by a guy in England (who uses the Food 52 website based in NY as his resource).  I find that quesadillas or wraps, pizza, omelettes and salad can absorb many small-quantity leftovers.

The rest of his waste-less-food page has lots of tips: I recommend the first video on the page (though I haven’t done it yet).

Pro tip: Sell By, Best By, and Use By dates are all a little different.  Learn more about what you can really eat and when, and remember that if you pop something in the freezer by one of those dates, you can safely eat it long after the date has passed.

Compost.  Food waste in landfills often doesn’t get enough oxygen to break down well, and ends up producing methane, a much stronger greenhouse gas.  Plus, your flowers and veggies will looooove your compost.  If you go for an indoor worm bin, you’ll also get compost tea.  Your houseplants have never looked better.   Tune in soon for a story from St. Martin in the Fields’ Blessing of the Heap.

Waste matters.    Food waste (not including the linked land-use changes) accounts for  About 1/3 of our food waste occurs at the consumer level.  That’s the place where we are totally in control.  Nearly 2/3 is wasted in production and distribution.  Consumers can help with the 2/3 part, too, by asking groceries for special lower-price bins of not-so-beautiful produce for example, or by working with groceries, restaurants, kitchens and food pantries to help with a gleaning program.  (Get a glimpse of the problem and some solutions in this National Geographic article; this partner article is subtitled: producing the food we throw away generates more greenhouse gasses than most entire countries do)

I’ll leave you with this, quoted in an article about a Food and Agriculture Organization report:

“Finally, produced but uneaten food vainly occupies almost 1.4 billion hectares of land; this represents close to 30 percent of the world’s agricultural land area.”

“We simply cannot allow one-third of all the food we produce to go to waste or be lost because of inappropriate practices, when 870 million people go hungry every day,” said the FAO’s director-general, José Graziano da Silva.”